Saturday, October 31, 2009

Menucha: In the Company of Friends

Two weeks ago, I returned to Menucha, a retreat in the Columbia River Gorge to enjoy a weekend of art, friendship and long healing walks through the abounding beauty of the Gorge. We arrived on Friday afternoon and settled in to our rooms and spread our art materials across the tables in Creevey complex, eager to begin our incredible weekend. This is our fall retreat, where we welcome not only the members of the Portland Art Collective, but the talented friends of our members who agreed to share our weekend with us.

Tory's wild hat.

Carrie's crown

But first we don our hats and speed to dinner. After being treated to the acapella rendition of grace by a choir group that sent shivers over your skin with the beauty of the vocals, we sat down to enjoy a turkey dinner. Delicious. Complete with homemade bread and jam. And of course, the shared stories and laughter as we all caught up with each others lives or enjoyed getting to know those guests who had not attended before.

After dinner, we took a tour of Wright's Hall, that used to serve as the main house when this was a private estate owned by one of the founders of Meiers and Frank. As with all old houses, there are oddities. A one way mirror in the master bathroom medicine cabinet that looked out on the great room dance floor. A full wet bar concealed behind a wall in the basement that hosted a party or two during the Prohibition. And a hallway that hosted our rendition of Row, Row, Row Your Boat with perfect acoustics.

We returned to Creevey and sat down to work on our projects. And more talk. And more laughter. And mutual admiration of the art we created. But the night grew late and one by one we trailed off to our bedrooms.

We woke to a beautiful, sunny day full of promise. I could not wait to get outside after breakfast and take a walk through the grounds. The day was full of colors - leaves, berries, water, and sky filled my camera with the eye candy of fall.
I finished my walk by completing a meditative journey through the labyrinth, seeking peace with all that has happened at work over the past few months and looking for direction in a world suddenly chaotic and unfamiliar.

Tory's beautiful hat.

The rest of the day was filled with art, laughter and the company of friends, both old and new. Tory Brokenshire taught me how to solder one of her fabulous wire and polymer clay sculptures that took most of the day and her excellent skills as an instructor. I have dubbed her the Old School Marm. Severall of the members also taught mini classes and gladly shared their art expertise with everyone and we learned how to make felted soap, crocheted wire and bead necklaces and Zentangle doodles.

Too soon Sunday came and it was time to return home. After our goodbyes, we took one last walk around the grounds before heading down into the valley. I was sorry to lose the company of my fellow artists and friends. I feel so blessed to be a part of such a wonderful group.

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